Aldo’s dishes up old-school Italian and fashionable California fare
I usually go to Aldo’s for sunny summer morning breakfasts. There is plenty of activity to behold from its tables on the dock. Fishing boats and kayaks drift by, while cormorants and seals dive for their sustenance. My favorite meal is the pesto, sour cream and Swiss cheese omelet ($10.75) with raisin fugasa toast, and the best hash browns I’ve found anywhere.
I recently discovered that lunch offers some nice choices too. Salads such as crab and Caesar lighten up the midday. Clam chowder, prawn quesadillas and coconut shrimp bring the bay to the table. Deep-fried seafood entrée specialties ($11.95 to $13.50) include fish and chips and fried oysters. Numerous sandwiches ($10.95 to $12.95) are served on fugasa, the special leavened flatbread made at Aldo’s own bakery in Soquel. The rock cod is local, and can be grilled, blackened, or fried. The veggie sandwich ($9.95), with sprouts, avocado, basil mayonnaise, and Swiss cheese, is served on wheat.
Burgers ($10.25 to $11.45) begin with a half pound of Angus, with choice of cheddar, Swiss, jack or blue cheeses. You can add bacon or mushrooms, as well.
The generous serving of Aldo’s Calamari ($10.95) is billed as the best in town. Pieces of large squid were thinly battered and fried until the lightly tanned coating was as crunchy as corn flakes. The plump tentacles and coiled tubes were served with a mild cocktail sauce and citrusy tartar with well-minced pickles.
The Mediterranean Salad ($11.95) seemed enormous. Heaps of black olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and red onions encircled the bowl of greens. For the side of dressing, a simple balsamic vinaigrette was dotted with rosemary.
Aldo’s Ravioli ($11.95), made from scratch at the bakery, was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The flavor of the bright green spinach and Romano cheese filling is kicked up by a bit of nutmeg. The choice of sauces include Aldo’s luscious pesto, marinara, Alfredo and meat. The latter, a bright red color with ground meat, was topped with shredded Parmesan, making the rich, stuffed pasta even more fulfilling. I wasn’t a big fan of the garlic fugasa bread ($4.25), but my friends beg to differ. The thin, raised, flatbread was wonderful, but I tasted little garlic.
Aldo’s unusual fat Fish Tacos ($13.25) were delicious. Two seven-inch flour tortillas, browned without oil like quesadillas, were stuffed with spicy mahi mahi in chipotle sauce, cabbage, and a nice fresh salsa with green onions and jalapeños. As a healthy option to fries, the fresh mixed green salad ($1.50) was plated separately. Chicken tacos with romaine, cheddar and chipotle sauce are also available.
Aldo’s, 616 Atlantic Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-3736. Full bar. Open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Sunday 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Visit aldos-cruz.com.